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Book Chapter

Strutt, John William, Third Baron Rayleigh

Published:
January 01, 2007

Abstract

Lord Rayleigh (as he is universally known in scientific circles) was one of the greatest ornaments of British science in the last half of the nineteenth century and the first two decades of the twentieth. A peer by inheritance, he took the unusual course of devoting himself to a scientific career and maintained his research activity continuously from the time of his graduation from Cambridge University in 1865 until almost literally the day of his death. Rayleigh’s investigations, reported in 430 scientific papers and his monumental two-volume treatise The Theory of Sound (1877–1878), covered every field of what in the twentieth century is commonly referred to as “classical” physics; at the same time he kept abreast of, and made incisive critical comments on, the latest developments of quantum and relativistic physics. Not in any sense a pure mathematician, Rayleigh applied mathematics with great skill and accuracy to a host of problems in theoretical physics. In addition he was an ingenious and resourceful experimentalist, with the uncanny ability to extract the most from the simplest arrangements of apparatus. The discovery and isolation of argon, usually considered by the lay public as his greatest scientific achievement, was a triumph of both careful logical reasoning and patient and painstaking experimentation.

At Cambridge, Strutt became a pupil of the mathematician E. J. Routh and profited greatly from his thorough coaching. This and the inspiration gained from the lectures of Sir George Stokes, at that time Lucasian professor of mathematics, paved the way in part at least for Strutt’s emergence as senior wrangler in the mathematical tripos as well as Smith’s Prizeman. He became a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1866; and from that time on, there was no doubt that he was headed for a distinguished scientific career.

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Contents

Society of Exploration Geophysicists Geophysics Reprint Series

Classics of Elastic Wave Theory

Michael A. Pelissier
Michael A. Pelissier
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Henning Hoeber
Henning Hoeber
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Norbert van de Coevering
Norbert van de Coevering
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Ian F. Jones
Ian F. Jones
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Society of Exploration Geophysicists
Volume
24
ISBN electronic:
9781560801931
Publication date:
January 01, 2007

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